A short, squat, useless Robocop comes to NYC

The New York City Police Department is set to deploy a law-enforcement robot, but it's less Robocop and more R2-D2, only without the functionality. It's called K5, and it will "patrol" the Times Square station's mezzanine station (it can't go downstairs to the platform).

Link to the article in The New York Times here.

The robot, armed with four cameras, will record video but not audio. It will not employ facial recognition and — at a moment when the mayor is calling for vital city agencies to slash 5 percent of their budgets — the cost of leasing it averages out to about $9 per hour.

It's hard to imagine how this oversized roomba will help. Subway stations are already riddled with cameras. Apparently you can press a button to call for assistance, but how is that better than a button on the wall, or using your phone?

The K5 can serve as a "physical deterrence," according to Knightscope. It is weatherproof, travels at a top speed of 3 miles per hour and can provide 360-degree recording in high definition and issue audio messages.

When a button is pressed to call for assistance, the robot issues a series of beeps and then says: "This call may be recorded for your safety." It will connect to the Wi-Fi network in the subway.

About the only way this makes sense would be if its cameras were using facial recognition. Mayor Eric Adams seems to be mollifying privacy advocates by saying it won't use such technology, but I wouldn't bet that it doesn't come into play later.

In the meantime, K5's only use will probably be to provide sport for people who want to knock it over.